A while ago, I wrote a post on packing for tournaments. The focus was on tournaments you can drive to, but when you have to fly, things are a bit trickier.
Here are a few tips I can share from my son’s experiences. Each airline treats carry-on bags a bit differently, so you might want to check with your specific airline about what’s allowed.
- Carry your racquet bag onto the plane with you. Hold your ground on this one! Put your racquets, string, towel, grips, shoes, socks, and a couple of changes of clothes in there along with any toiletries (extra contacts, medicines, etc.) that you will need in case your checked luggage doesn’t make it to your final destination.
- Arrange ahead of time to board the plane early to ensure there is space in the overhead bin for your racquet bag. While my son has been hassled a couple of times by gate agents and flight attendants, most of the time they don’t say a word, and he finds a safe spot for his bag during the flight.
- If you use a powdered drink mix on the court, pack some in a ziploc to bring on the plane with you, but be sure to include the label so there is no question about what the mix contains! Especially if you’re travelling overseas, the customs agents don’t take too kindly to random powdered substances!
- Plan to go to the grocery store once you arrive at your destination to stock up on bottled water, sports drinks, an inexpensive cooler or water jug, sunscreen, and snacks. There’s no point in weighing down your luggage with that stuff when it’s just as easy to buy it on the back end. Yes, you may end up leaving some of the items instead of lugging them back home, but I promise you it’s worth it. Wherever you’re playing your matches, there is likely another player that will be happy to take your leftovers and extra jug or cooler off your hands.
- In terms of whether to take your racquets already strung or to string them once you arrive, if you’re taking them on the plane with you, the tension shouldn’t be noticeably affected. If you think the airline will make you check your racquets, then you may need to re-string once you arrive due to the changes in air pressure.
- Be sure to print out draws and all pertinent tournament information (including driving directions and hotel confirmation) before leaving home. You never know how your internet connection will be, and it’s best just to have those details on hand just in case.
- Lately, I’ve been packing the video camera and fence mount in my suitcase, too. I like having the option to record my son’s matches, especially now that he’s at the stage where he’s sending clips to college coaches.
- Coach Marc Lucero tweeted to me that players also need to be sure to pick up a couple of big bottles of water once they’re through security to drink during the flight to help prevent dehydration.
What am I leaving off the list? Please feel free to add to it in the Comments below.
Note: Coach Allistair McCaw shares some good tips for handling jet lag in this article: How To Handle the Jet Lag